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2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PIED3503 Crisis Diplomacy: Coercion, Sanctions and the Use of Force in International Relations

20 creditsClass Size: 75

Module manager: Dr Graeme Davies

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Why should I take this module?The module provides an overview of the factors that influence state behaviour during international crises. Considerable attention will be paid to the role of information and credibility in successfully resolving potentially explosive international situations. The module will examine state bargaining behaviour during crises and discuss how the dynamics of international crises undermine decision-making. The module will also examine the efficacy of differing approaches to coercion ranging from threats to military strikes. Finally the module will apply these different theoretical approaches to current international confrontations with Iran and North Korea. Extensive use of role playing simulations will be used in the seminars.Brief Reading ListBlanchard, Jean-Marc F., Edward D. Mansfield, Norrin M. Ripsman. eds. 2000. The Power and the Purse: Economic Statecraft, Interdependence and National Security. London: Frank Cass PublicationsSchultz, Kenneth A. 2001. Democracy and Coercive Diplomacy. Cambridge: Cambridge University PressBowen, Wyn Q. and Joanna Kidd. 2004. “The Iranian Nuclear Challenge”. International Affairs 80 (2), pp. 257-276Tarock, Adam. 2006. “Iran’s nuclear programme and the west”. Third World Quarterly. 27(4), pp. 645-664


On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Demonstrate an ability to critically evaluate the principal debates about coercive diplomacy.
2. Explain the strengths and weaknesses of competing approaches to crisis diplomacy.
3. Assess the utility of theory in understanding leader behaviour during international crises.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of how information influences crisis outcomes.
5. Critically apply theoretical debates to ongoing international crises.
6. Discuss the ethical implications of the use of force and economic sanctions.

Learning outcomes
The principal aim of this module is to provide students with grounding in theoretical and empirical research into international crises.

- The first objective is to provide the students with a good understanding of the theoretical approaches used to analyses international crises. Students will be shown how the distribution of information is a key factor in explaining crisis outcomes.
- The second objective is to outline why some strategies are more effective than others, in particular highlighting the difficulties of implementing successful sanctions.
- The third objective will be to give students an understanding of how decision-making is affected during international crises.
- The fourth objective will be to apply the theoretical approaches to two ongoing international disputes with North Korea and Iran.


Theories of Coercion
1. Introduction: Crises in international politics
2. Coercion and Crises
3. Costly Signals
4. Reputation

Behaviour During International Crises
5. Sanctions and Smart Sanctions
6. Carrots or Sticks?
7. Force: Airpower and Blockades
8. Crisis decision-making I. Rational and Non-Rational Models

Case Studies
9. North Korea
10. Future Crises: Iran
11. Conclusion

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students are required to read core and additional readings listed in the reading list in preparation for seminar discussion and essays.

This entails careful and reflective reading, note-taking, summarising, preparation for class discussion, and developing a sense of a field of literature in addition to engagement with individual readings.

Students are also encouraged to use their initiative and skills of discernment in finding additional material relevant to the course topics.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Student attendance will be monitored on a weekly basis.
- Student contribution to class discussion will be monitored throughout the course, but not assessed.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,500 word essay, final essay100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

1,000 word mid-term essay (Non Assessed)

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 12/12/2018 16:33:10


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